Reviewbr> "Look, the boys were just having a bit of a game. No one meant you any harm." -Sony
Jessica is on her own, well if you discount the critters she looks after, running an outback animal sanctuary while her husband is off in the city at a conference. Naturally, this being the Aussie wilderness of the late 1980s, Roo shooters with nefarious motives are about in the form of the debonair Sony, the video clip escapee Ringo, and the mentally challenged Sparks. Naturally they run Jessica off the road while she is heading into town for supplies. The local law officer isn't interest, lack of evidence and she didn't quite end up going over a cliff or anything so no harm done.
Things escalate as Jessica confronts the Roo shooters and things get out of hand, the last straw being a semi dressed Jessica as a hood ornament in an iconic Ozploitation scene. It's not long before our Gal is fighting for her life against three deranged blokes who have seen one too many Mad Max movies. Can Jessica make it out alive or is another outback legend about to go down?
By 1986 the whole ozploitation movement was dying a natural death. The wine and cheese set had finally worked out Government funding wasn't leading to a golden age of Aussie movie making, hence they turned against it, and cracks were appearing in the economy leading elected officials to eye up where they could make savings on the budget. While it could, and I would certainly make the argument, that the funding was necessary for the evolution of film making in this Country, the Industry was definitely strong enough to be taken off the tit and let free to run wild in the commercial backyard. Fair Game stands as one of the final products of a unique film making era, and thus is off historic worth regardless of actual merit, though as stated above there is an iconic scene to be had.
Whether or not this was the end of a classic period of Aussie film making remains the subject of often times heated debate.
Mario Andreacchio kicks off his outback saga of revenge with a scene that simply screams out Speilberg's Duel. Our Roo shooters are out and about doing their bit to destroy the local environment via night shooting of the local fauna. Director Andreacchio brings a personality to their vehicle, dubbed "the beast" that will take center stage throughout the movie. We get seemingly primeval roaring from the infernal machine, and headlights that glow an evil red that seem to be alive with malevolence. The Director imbibes the machine with an almost dinosaur like quality, something he no doubt picked up from Speilberg's first foray into feature film making. Evidence that Andreacchio is influence by Speilberg isn't long in coming with the van the roo crew use to cart around the growing number of roo corpses having a certain shark graphic on the back. Nothing wrong with borrowing from a master of film making, which Speilberg was prior to simply becoming another Director pumping out cookie cutter Studio product, though I have to say things do deteriorate somewhat from what is a promising opening.
Andreacchio gets his character on early, with pretty well defined leads making it obvious where our loyalties are meant to align. Jessica is all hair and skimpy clothes, presenting pretty much a quintessential Aussie outback heroine. The Director, knowing his audience, makes sure we get plenty of exposed flesh from our central character, we're talking almost full on nudity, though surprising some restraint is shown with our antagonists for the evening not going all the way with their assault on Jessica. Not sure if that's meant to be implied or the Producers feared running afoul of the censors? Speaking of our Roo patrol, the Director certainly makes sure the viewer isn't going to be confused by who's who. Sony is the good looking seemingly reasonable bloke, who turns out to be more effectively evil than his cohorts when the blade meets the flesh. Ringo looks like he stepped out of an INXS video clip, and can be relied on to take it one step beyond when the opportunity presents itself. And finally Sparks, who is slightly dim witted, just needs the right fire under his arse to join in the festivities. Jessica is certainly going to have her work cut out dealing with this trilogy of outback badness.
Having established his characters in pretty effective fashion Andreacchio next turns to setting up the conflict that will drive Fair Game to it's explosive conclusion. The Roo shooters of discontent are clearly not averse to hunting on game preserves, and are definitely up for some "Mad Max" road action. If said action involves running young ladies off the road and nearly over cliffs, all in the name of fun of course. In a nice touch the Director pretty effectively enforces the notion that Jessica is on her own, when during the town scene the local law can inform her there isn't proof that she ran afoul of her tormentors. Nice economical touch, with Officer Frank clearly disinterested in any road rage in his jurisdiction.
Actually there's a bit of up skirting action taking place late in this scene that made me wonder if Jessica isn't "asking for it" if we wanted to be callous. Ringo, crazy dude right, positions himself under Jessica's car and zooms out to get a photo of Jessica's naughty bits, well the parts we haven't been privy too yet. Sometime later we learn Jessica went to town in what amounts to a shirt with no knickers on. Either a forgetful gal or just asking for trouble, you make your own mind up. One gust of wind and it would have been lamington city for the local inbreeds yo.
Having established his settings, characters, and most importantly the source of conflict, Andreacchio spends the middle part of his movie escalating the conflict. Things gradually go from a bit of niggle, as we would put it Downunder, to pretty much open warfare as the final act rolls into view. While I appreciated the gradually heightening of the conflict there's a feeling the movie drifts somewhat through the middle with the pacing dropping off in stages. Equally I kind of thought Jessica, a tree hugger type, managed to outsmart the Roo hunters a tad too easily. Anyways things get a lot worse and the audience are left wondering what the hell is going to go down in the final act.
Before getting into the best part of the movie, we're talking the blood running free in a sort of restrained fashion folks, a word on the score. Frack me, even Boredwood or a porno Director would disown the Hammond organ affair put on for our entertainment. At stages the score screeches into irritation-ville, often times doesn't remotely back the visuals or pace on the screen, and makes you wonder why thy bothered. Ambient noise, let the movie speak for itself would have been a far better option than the misguided attempt at composing the Audience suffers through. Thankfully Director Andreacchio keeps it all in his pants and the volume down low to avoid contravening various UN conventions.
Back to the meat and three veg, having suffered the indignity of a car bonnet ride, a horse being shot out from under her, and her home being used for target practice, Jessica decides to fight back. Which is just as well as Sony has had enough of the salad eating bitch, sorry fell into roo shooter mode there, and wants to even up the perceived score via the ever handy violence option. Jessica, showing the resourcefulness that would make a slasher final chick* proud, sets about building various traps and weapons of mass destruction to face the coming dawn of the Bogan roo shooter. To Director Andreacchio's credit not everything goes according to plan and there are a few surprises in store for the audience, including the obligatory final "they aren't dead" scene that wasn't what I expected. After the casual pacing of the middle part of the movie it's all high octane and action in the final block, as we get a sort of re-enactment of any number of Westerns. You know the ones, where the ranchers have to board up the homestead as the Apaches attack with the dawn. It's stunning stuff and pretty much handled with a deft hand. There's going to be a lot of fans of the final block of Fair Game.
Overall I had a reasonably good time with this movie. I pretty much got what I was expecting and it was nice to step once more into a by-gone age where movie making wasn't PC in the slightest. There's a general feeling of restraint during the movie that I dug, though things should have been amped up during the middle section. Okay Cassandra Delaney hitting the prolonged nudie scene was worth it, but a decent Director would have found something a slight bit more tension filled and sinister than Andreacchio did when Jessica discovers Ringo has been in the house while she has been sleeping, and he's been taking pictures. Guess in the modern age those family album shoots would have gone virile on the internet already. So overall good deal, enjoyed the movie for what it was, and noted the problems. Worth a look folks, as Fair Game pretty much marked an end of an era.
* - this site doesn't hold with the "final girl" concept, a bogus concept dreamed up by an academic to support her dubious findings. Article in the planning stages kids.